The ACT Goes Online
Recently, you may have heard some buzz about ACT offering a computer-based test (CBT). Yes, this is true! ACT has been allowing states and districts that use their school day testing system to try out a digital version of the test.
This endeavor isn’t entirely new for ACT. The company has explored CBTs for some time now. Below is a brief timeline of the ACT going online.
- February 2012: ACT WorkKeys, a test to assess workplace skills, offers CBTs. In a case study published by the ACT, it was reported that approximately half of the 35,000 WorkKeys test-takers in North Carolina took the exam on a computer, making it the largest CBT pilot that the ACT had ever attempted. This digital test proved popular: only one year later, 86% of WorkKeys examinees in the same state took the test on a computer.
- May 2013: ACT announces that it will move its college admissions exam to a computer-based test “in the spring of 2015.”
- Fall 2014: ACT Aspire periodic tests are delivered in CBT format exclusively. However, the final “Summative” test is available on paper.
- Spring 2014: ACT pilots a computer-based version of the college admissions test, taken by 4,000 students in 23 states in April alone.
- Spring 2015-Present: In May 2015, the ACT released a statement that it would continue to expand the online testing option in the next school year. Schools and districts that use the ACT’s school day testing option would be the first to have access to the online format.
- May 2017: The ACT announces a partnership with ATA, a leading provider of computer-based testing and assessment services in China. However, this isn’t the first time the ACT has worked with this same company! ACT and ATA partnered in 2012, as well.
- Spring 2017: Scores from online administrations of the test (only conducted at certain schools) will be released on the same schedule as paper tests.
- Fall 2017: All overseas ACT test centers will administer an online, computerized adaptive version of the ACT.
Right now, our only available example of what an online ACT might look like is based on what is being administered at the ACT’s pilot schools. To see an online ACT that students have been taking in selected states and districts, follow this link to the TestNav site and click on “Practice Tests” at the bottom right.
The ACT will continue to offer paper versions of the test. In fact, they must, because the current online test is not enabled to provide for certain types of student accommodations. However, digital administration of the ACT also raises questions of score equivalency and test administration equity, which haven’t really been answered. Districts and schools with limited technological support may not be able to participate in computer-based testing. Additionally, the process of setting up an ACT-approved testing environment is very complicated.
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